The Tucson Festival of Films is a different kind of festival than any other I’ve heard of. It’s presented by the curators of eight different annual film festivals here in town, with one film contributed by each festival, making this cinematic celebration a true “festival of festivals.” It’s a three-night event, from Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 8th through 10th, beginning at 6 pm each of those evenings, at the Temple of Music and Art, downtown on Scott Avenue—certainly a lovely venue for movie watching. The nature of the TFOF is such that I can anticipate every film being worth seeing, since they’ve been picked as the best of each festival. But I have time to mention only three.
Playing Thursday at 7:30, Maȉna, from Canadian director Michel Poulette, is a story of native people—First Nations, as they say in Canada—with an all-native cast, and for the first time financed by the nations themselves, in this case two indigenous communities, the Innu from Mingan in south Quebec, and the Kuujjuaq Inuit people from the far north region of that province. The story takes place prior to European contact. The title character, played by Roseanne Supernault, is the son of the Innu chief. A hostile interaction with the Inuits leads to her being captured by that group and taken away from the familiar lush greenery of her home to the “land without trees,” the wintry northern region. Judging from the trailer, Maȉna is a polished and visually stunning picture. It’s made a splash around the world at various festivals, and won Best Picture at the American Indian Film Festival.
KXCI listeners may take special note of the film playing Friday night. Sounds of Tucson, directed by Guillaume Dero, celebrates the vibrant musical culture of Tucson and southern Arizona, which mixes rock and Americana and Latino elements to become one of the creative epicenters of music today. The film features Howe Gelb, Joey Burns, Billy Sedlmayr, Tom Walbank, and others, and there will be a live performance by musical guests after the screening. The two trailers I’ve watched are very engaging, and I can’t think of too many things that would be more fun than watching a film about our great local musicians.
For me, artistically speaking, the most anticipated film of the weekend is Gȕeros, from Mexican director Alonso Ruizpalacio, playing Saturday at 7 PM. Critics and audiences around the world have reacted to this film with enthusiasm and even a little bit of shock at how unusual it is. It’s clear that in Ruizpalacio, cinema has a great new talent to be reckoned with. The story starts with an adolescent boy being sent by his mother to live with his older brother in Mexico City, supposedly to help him grow up. However, the brother and his best friend are partiers, and they go on a meandering adventure, which just happens to coincide with the tumultuous student strikes of 1999. Great historical events are often experienced as merely incidental in the lives of many ordinary people, and the film seeks to portray that truth, with humor and an offbeat defiance of narrative expectations. Shot in black and white, with a classical square aspect ratio, Gȕeros is by all reports a surprising and provocative work.
For more information, go to tucsonfestivaloffilms.com. And I hope to see you there.